The holidays are here! It’s the season to be merry and bright—for peace on earth and goodwill towards all. Most of all, it’s a time of year for families to spend quality time with one another, exchange gifts of love, and participate in all kinds of special traditions.
Here at Cultural Care, we love the fact that the spirit of the season aligns perfectly with the spirit of our program. Perhaps during the holidays more than ever, host families take joy in exchanging cultures with their au pairs. It’s a chance to show your newest member of the family all the things that make for a quintessential holiday in your household. And it’s a unique opportunity to experience traditions from another part of the world.
The truth is—holidays are simply more fun with an au pair! They’re there to be an extra set of hands for gift-buying and wrapping. They’re an extra chef/baker in the house when it comes time to make those special holiday dishes. They can even help your children get involved with arts & crafts for the holidays, or with decorating the house.
If you live in an area of the USA where you get snow around the holidays, then watching an au pair play with your children is an added joy. Many au pairs see snow for the first time during their program year in America—particularly those from Latin American countries like Brazil or Colombia—and they revel in the chance to build snowmen with their host kids or go skiing, sledding or tubing with your little ones.
Ultimately, though, having an au pair around the house for the holidays is wonderful because in the true spirit of the season—the more the merrier! An au pair is another loved one with whom you can share your food, your traditions, and your well wishes. They’re someone you can hang a stocking for, or create an ornament for (both of which have proved to be wildly successful and sentimental for Cultural Care au pairs). And if your au pair has a tradition from their home country that they’d like to share with you and the kids, then even better! What a lovely way to learn about and embrace someone from another culture—during a meaningful time of year.
Check out what some of our host parents have to say about having an au pair around the holidays below. While all of our families have unique experiences with their au pairs, one thing is always in common—this time of year is better with an au pair!
The Unis family in California
“We love learning about Kevin’s culture just as much as he loves learning about American culture, and we enjoy spending time sharing stories of our family and cultural traditions. My husband even cooked some Swabian Food from a cookbook that Kevin gave us of his regional cuisine! Having Kevin around makes every holiday more fun for us because we get to share it with someone who is experiencing it for the first time, and we appreciate that he is excited to celebrate with us.”
The Ehlers family in Washington
“Because we’re a young family, Selina has felt like a part of our family almost immediately. She has been with us since the girls were only 3 months old and has been a part of this entire adventure for all of us. However, the moment that I seemed to really cement the fact that Selina was part of our family was during Christmas. This was our first Christmas with our new girls and we decided that a ‘low key’ Christmas at home without traveling would be preferred. Christmas Eve we stayed up late exchanging family stories and traditions over a meal and wine only to get up early the next morning and do a family gift exchange. The traditions felt seamless to both Emily and my traditions growing up and Selina was completely engaged with us.
Christmas was the most profound example that sticks out, but there have been countless other moments of lesser significance that have helped us realize that she is part of the family. On many occasions, she has decided to spend her evenings or weekends with our family whether it is for family dinners, trips to the pumpkin patch, shopping outings, sporting events or even walks in the park. From the day she has arrived, she has assimilated very well into our family dynamics and will forever be etched in our memories as a part of our family for a short time.”
The Cornes family in California
“Nia shared a unique German Christmastime tradition with us—Martinstag (St. Martin’s Day or Martinsmas). The visit of St. Martin when German children leave their shoes on the doorstep and awaken to find them filled with Candy. We first learned of it the evening of the holiday, when Ren told us about how excited he was to leave his shoes out and get candy; he even produced a letter he had written to St. Marti. At first, I panicked! There was no candy in the house. Uh-oh! I sent a message to Nia who was out for the evening to learn that she had the holiday all planned out. She returned like Santa after the kids had gone to bed with bags of candy and small presents and filled their shoes to the brim. The kids were, of course, thrilled the next morning. It was very sweet of her to create this magical experience for them!”
The Sancewich family in Washington
“In the month of December, we loved sharing our holiday traditions with Lea, including decorating the house to feel magical and festive. Lea shared her home traditions with us as well, including a new pickle ornament to be hidden on the tree on Christmas Eve. The first to find the pickle gets to open the first gift. This is a tradition in Lea’s family and she so graciously shared it with us this year—we will keep the pickle and think fondly of our Christmas with Lea every Christmas in the future! Lea is easygoing, kind and open to being silly! A family tradition we have is new Christmas PJs on Christmas Eve. This year, Lea got a pair too and gladly put them on for family pictures as we all got excited about Santa’s expected arrival. Lea told me that spending Christmas with the kids and I was magical, and that made me so happy to know that she was comfortable and happy even being far from her family on an important holiday!